Real Estate

LRC Outlines Plans for Rt. 224 Sites, Shenango Mall

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – LRC Realty’s upcoming purchase of the Shenango Valley Mall represents just one aspect of the developer’s plans for the region. 

Construction is underway on a new Starbucks on an outparcel of the property at U.S. Route 224 and South Avenue formerly occupied by a Kmart department store, LRC officials report. The company is in the permitting process to build an adjacent four-tenant plaza, with contracts expected to be awarded early next week. 

Farther east along the corridor, construction should begin by the second week of August on a 9,500-square-foot building adjacent to the Starbucks/Chipotle building that LRC constructed near state Route 11.

Activity by the Akron-based real estate developer is “opportunity driven,” said LRC’s president, Frank Licata. On Wednesday, LRC announced it would purchase the Shenango Valley Mall from GFM-23, a group comprised of 23 descendants of former landowner George F. McConnell.

“Our business model is to put good retail clients of ours into good locations,” Licata said.

LRC is under contract with GFM-23 and is in the design and due diligence phases of the project, Licata said. He could not definitively say when the sale would close and declined to give the sale price, but anticipated it would close sometime in 2020. He said he would have a better idea of the start of construction further into the process. 

LRC is gathering information from potential tenants that he thinks would be a good fit and could be successful in the long term, he said. 

“It’s always been the best real estate in the city, the best location,” Licata said. Situated at the intersection of East State Street and Pennsylvania Route 18 in Hermitage, Pa., the mall is at “the crossroads of the city” and “very well positioned,” he said. 

Renovation of the property is expected once LRC acquires the roughly 500,000-square-foot mall. Much of the building is “antiquated” and “obsolete,” he said. 

“A lot of what we might do is what I call addition by subtraction. We might be demolishing certain areas that are not efficient, turning it inside out, if you will, to make it more contemporary and more in line with where retail is heading,” with more detail on those plans coming as the project advances, he said. 

“It’s trying to find the right balance of square footage and amenities and making it functional. Sometimes that does mean reducing the existing footprint and creating different spaces that are more compatible for what is going on today in retail.” 

Construction will begin this month on the two new developments along the Route 224 corridor. 

LRC is jointly developing the former Kmart property with the site’s owner, Valley View Investors LLC.

LRC is scheduled to turn over the 2,400-square-foot building now under construction to Starbucks, said Gary O’Nesti, special projects director for LRC. Construction should begin by the third week of August on a 10,700-square-foot plaza at the site that will accommodate four tenants. 

Two tenants, national chain restaurants new to the local market, are already confirmed, O’Nesti said. 

The outparcel projects represent “the first phase” for the former Kmart site, he said. LRC is in “active discussion” with several tenants for the remainder of the property, he reported. 

Boardman Township approved a zoning permit for the plaza and township officials will work with LRC on the design, landscaping and other elements of the site’s redevelopment to make sure that it complies with the township code and the “is a great asset to the community,” said Krista Beniston, director of zoning and development. 

“We’re excited to see movement on that property. We’re excited to see what else goes there,” she said. 

A tenant is also confirmed for one of the available spaces in a 9,500-square-foot plaza being developed adjacent to the Starbucks/Chipotle building in Canfield Township, Licata said. 

The building is expected to accommodate four to five tenants, according to O’Nesti. LRC is finalizing the first lease now and other letters of intent are ready to go. 

“The first tenant is a local tenant,” he said.

Pictured: LRC Realty is preparing to begin construction on a Starbucks on an outparcel at the former Kmart site in Boardman.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.